This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with top-echelon and renowned professionals. In this blog, I interview Microsoft Director John Oxley: Leading Multi-Award Winning International Technology Authority and Executive; John talks about the drivers for strong leadership plus shares his top career tips and lessons.

Enjoy,
Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, ISP, ITCP/IP3P, DFNPA, CNP, MVP

John Oxley is a multiple-award winning Director of Technical Audience Marketing and ICT Evangelism at Microsoft Canada. In this role, John leads and manages a team of Technical Audience Marketing Managers and Senior Technical Advisors that reach out and connect across the ICT industry. Business success, as his mandate, is measured by the technical professional's satisfaction and platform adoption. His team of select Evangelists, Advisors and Marketing Managers are Microsoft Canada's ambassadors to the ICT community; connecting, supporting and enabling the technical professional and industry. From Academia and across the Industry, his team focuses on driving industry awareness, education, training and adoption of Microsoft solutions through events, industry/community involvement and direct engagement. His globally No. 1 ranked team of Advisors and Marketing managers work exclusively in reaching out to diverse communities leveraging social media, community connections and more.

John is very well respected at Microsoft Redmond and at Microsoft Canada, plus in the overall Canadian and global community. John is an acknowledged top-ranked speaker, blogger, web-caster, business executive and international thought leader.

To illustrate, since 2007, he was achieved many major awards and recognitions:

  • Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) Gala Award for outstanding contributions.
  • Vice-President of the Industry Canada Chartered CIPS, Canada's official representative to the UNESCO Consultative Body and UN-founded International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP).
  • Invited to the Board of Directors and serving as key strategist for the Information Communication Technology Council of Canada, the Federally-funded Sector Council representing the ICT sector in Canada.
  • Judy Elder Award for his impact to the MS organization and to the overall community.
  • DPE Top Global Manager Award, as the top manager worldwide in the participative web and community programs he runs.
  • Invited to the prestigious global Microsoft High Performance Team for special senior leadership fast-track development and support.
  • Due to John's extensive internationally acknowledged leadership and innovation in both business and technology, John hosted the first full international OECD Participative Web Conference "Strategies and Policies for the Future" in Ottawa, where top global leaders in government, business, academia, and media presented.

In addition, John created the IT Manager Connection blog in 2006, which in one year was ranked in the top 10% of TechNet blog properties worldwide. This blog was featured in every issue of Computing Canada in 2006 and 2007 in the editorial column Blogged Down, received a Top 10 spotlight from Computer World Canada in 2008, and in a press release a Top 7 highlight at the 2008 Global MVP Summit with the speech and profile of MS CEO, Steve Balmer. John and his talented top-ranked team led the development of the very successful Energize IT Conferences, was the creative inspiration behind the online and interactive national Academic forums bringing in faculty and academic leaders, and the very successful Ignite Your Career series plus TechDays Conferences running across the country. In addition, John has been a key participant and invited international advisor in enabling the UN-founded, IFIP International Professional Practice Partnership (IP3), receiving full support and ratification for implementation [in conjunction with Microsoft] at the IFIP World General Assembly in August 2007. This IFIP IP3 initiative, which provides for a global professionalism and certification program, launched in 2009 and is the first of its kind in the world!

Joining Microsoft in 2000, John started in the Consulting Services group delivering enterprise solutions to many large and medium organizations. From Technology consultant, leading Enterprise strategies to his current position, John has grown his experiences in driving business accountability and others success. Prior to Microsoft, John has been a senior consultant and manager for over 8 years, working with many professional services companies including EDS. Previous to that, John spent many years in the Canadian Air force in technical and leadership roles which have taken him across Canada and around the world, plus adding to his broad competency set as a skilled pilot. His varied senior-level and in-depth technical experiences have given him a unique insight and fuelled his passion for Business, the IT Industry, community, service, and connection. Technology and Thought Leadership is not only a career for John, it is a mission leveraging his experiences to reach out and support the community.

John, his wife and two kids can attest that he is a techie at heart as he is always bringing home some sort of new technology gadget. There are no bounds and no matter if it is the latest software or hardware from Enterprise applications, home automation to cool devices, John will seek it out and share his experiences with others.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

DISCUSSION:

Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

:00:52:
How would you differentiate project management and leadership?
"....Management is a set of processes that can keep a complicated set of people and technology running smoothly. Important aspects of management include planning, budgeting, organization, staffing, controlling and problem-solving. Leadership really defines what the future should look like and aligns people with that vision and inspires them to make it happen despite the obstacles. Leadership is the intangible versus the explicit processes and activities that get done, and you just can't be a leader without being a manager but you can be a manager without being a leader...."

:08:54:
We talked about project management, management and leadership and what differentiates between these different roles, what are the benchmarks for success for each one of these?
"...For the individual - you are always learning and going forward....For an organization - outcome and your team's performance....Externally - how other's see you and how they rate you...."

:11:19:
When some people want to take leadership positions, they may be constrained by their own fears. How do you manage that?
"....There is no master lesson of how you are going to increase confidence, other than by doing....I always made sure I surrounded myself with people who were supportive, who built on my strengths instead of highlighting my weaknesses, and I put myself in situations where it didn't always feel secure. But I always went forward....Taking action is the core of how to grow your set of experiences, your leadership skills, and your competences...."

:14:38:
Can you share some leadership lessons for success from the notable thought leaders and authors with whom you've had the opportunity to get in touch and form relationships?
"....Find what you are passionate about and as you grow, your leadership skills will come naturally out of it....When you are in a leadership position, step on the gas....Business accountability...."

:17:34:
From his many experiences, John shares an enlightening example of leadership lessons.

:23:19:
What would be your recommended resources and tips for growing leadership skills?
"....Get out there and get involved....Surround yourself with good people....Learn...."

:26:29:
How is Microsoft involved in supporting leadership growth, strategies and actionable programs?
"....Internally we provide a framework of competencies and career growth planning to help our employees grow....Externally we run programs like Ignite your Career, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional program, some external training, help our partners grow through different activities as part of the partner program. We let Microsoft employees get involved with the community supporting the Boys and Girls Club of Canada. Myself, I'm on the Board of Directors of ICTC - Microsoft gives me the time to give back to the community...."

John invites any feedback from this conversation to contact him at john.oxley@microsoft.com.